Month: September 2018

Dark, Tragic, & Spine-Tinglingly Terrific: Halloween Book Recommendations from the God of the Underworld | Author Guest Post

Posted September 29, 2018 by Jana in Guest Post / 0 Comments

Magic, Myth, & Mischief, hosted by me and Bonnie, is a month-long event that celebrates fairy tales and mythological retellings, as well as retellings of favorite classic novels and books featuring mythical beasts such as mermaids, dragons, and fae! Find the schedule of events and other information here.

Today I’m welcoming Laure Holt, author of Fathoms Above, to the blog to present spooky book recommendations from Hades himself!


“Dark, Tragic, and Spine-Tinglingly Terrific”
Halloween Book Recommendations from the God of the Underworld

Ever wonder what the god of the Underworld does in his spare time? Well, when he’s not stealing souls, entertaining himself with trivial mortal pursuits, or trekking through spooky forests, ghoulish ruins, hidden underwater halls, and haunted trains in an effort to break a curse, he relishes nothing more than sitting quietly with a wicked read like these. (Curled up on a throne that’s as black as his dark little heart in front of a hearth of blazing hellfire, of course.)

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

Hades has been around for a long time (like several million years). So, a historical retelling written in haunting prose that centers around creepy character Houdini, the famous escape artist, is right up his alley. Especially when the main character’s love interest has his own brand of dark, sardonic wit. In Hades’s opinion, if this book doesn’t get you in the mood for Halloween, he doesn’t know what will!

Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

Any book that has the word “dark” in the title makes it onto Hades’s tbr, and this next book in the Three Dark Crowns series is no exception. He is especially intrigued with the fact that Kendare Blake got the idea for this story from observing how all the queens but one in a bee colony are killed. Talk about freaky fabulous! The god of death can’t wait to see which queen comes out on top, though, if truth be told, he’s rooting for Katharine. Using the powers of dead queens and poisoning are, in his opinion, the best way to run a kingdom.

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein and Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

From the vampiric hills of Transylvania to the lightning-struck tower of Victor Frankenstein, one look at the spookerific covers of Kierstin White’s latest masterpieces, and Hades was hooked. He is a secret sucker for shiny things (though he likes to blame his collection of bobbles on his raven harbingers). Still, even Persephone had to admit that these books looked pretty good on the shelf next to all of his human skulls and glowing soul jars.

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

It should come as no surprise that Hades’s favorite holiday is Halloween. Not only is he death personified (though please don’t expect him to show up on your doorstep in a black hooded cloak carrying a scythe. That look is so nineties.) But when you live in an underground castle in the land of the dead guarded by a small army of mythical nasties, you’ve already won the house decorating contest. At that point, all you can do is embrace the inherent darkness. And Shea Ernshaw’s debut book, with witches, spooky magic, small town legends, and curses, sounds chock full of chills and thrills. Needless to say, Hades is super excited to give this one a try!


Fathoms Between by Laura Holt
Series: Star Crossed #3
Self-published on October 2, 2018
GoodreadsAmazon

It worked.

Cather Stevens thwarted the curse of star-crossed love that has plagued the women in her family for centuries. All it took was a marriage to Peter Ganis, the last living descendant of Pyramus’s bloodline, whose sway over her grows stronger with each passing day. The pieces of Thisbe’s soul are still out there, though. To erase the curse, Cather must travel to Greece’s most mythological places and track each one down with the help of her husband and Hermes, the Book Keeper and Messenger of the gods, who still holds a piece of her heart that neither is willing to give up.

But when an unexpected tragedy befalls Peter, Cather is forced to put her trust in none other than Hades, god of the Underworld and Zeus’s biggest rival. With magical assassins on their tail and danger lurking around every corner, they must work together to reunite the soul pieces before Ares, god of War, who was sent to Earth to stop them, destroys them and dooms Cather, her family, and both the men she loves forever.


About Laura Holt

Laura Holt is from a small Georgia town, where she lives with her daughter. Growing up as the oldest of three sisters, Laura used her imagination to make up stories as a way to escape from the sometimes crazy-making monotony of everyday life. As she got older, her love of stories grew into a love of books, especially fantasy, and eventually, she wrote her own stories down as well. When Laura isn’t busy writing or thinking up a new way to promote the Star Crossed series, she can be found curled up on the couch reading, working out, or spending time with her daughter. A few of their favorite pastimes include watching shows like Merlin on Netflix, shopping, and going treasure hunting. Laura is also active in the children’s ministry at her local church, is addicted to Pinterest, loves anything chocolate (as long as it doesn’t have soy in it), and is always looking for a new way to get her daily adrenaline fix.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon


Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton | Book Review

Posted September 27, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton | Book ReviewRebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Published by Viking Children's Books on March 8, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Simply put, I loved everything about Rebel of the Sands, from the beautiful cover to the amazingly fitting title to the words inside. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. THE COVER. Moving on.

2. The story is this awesome middle eastern, wild west, Aladdin, mystic conglomeration with magic and mythical horses and sand and a sultan and a secret world of magical and powerful beings. It’s just so unique and exciting. It grabbed me from the first page.

3. The world feels both modern and historic. There’s djinni and ghouls and traversing the desert by horse, but there’s also modern technology like gun factories and trains. This hybrid of various world building elements felt very fresh. So often we see fantasies pulling elements from fairytales or other tried and true fantasy novels, but Rebel of the Sands feels very original and authentic.

4. Amani is a wonderful heroine. She’s smart, sassy, and filled with quick wit and the perfect amount of paranoia to make her someone you can really get behind, rather than a dumb damsel in distress. There’s no Bella complex going on here. I really love heroines that start out at rock bottom because they have nothing to lose and make quick decisions that have the power to change their lives. That’s Amani. When we meet her, her life is the epitome of misery. She’s an orphan living with her uncle who might force her to marry him, and she’s scrimping and saving so she can escape before it’s too late. You’d think she’d be submissive and quiet living under these circumstances, but she has this fire and will not be forced to do anything she doesn’t want to do.

5. Jin is so perfect. He’s so mysterious and caring and he gave me the swoons. I loved the chemistry between him and Amani because there’s this intrigue underneath a strongly developing friendship. They look out for each other and have some of the sweetest moments.

6. This book isn’t really romancey, and I liked that a lot. So often the world and the important details sit in the back seat while the romance drives the entire story. There are hints of romance, and those hang out in the trunk. Or the luggage rack. This story is about so much more than a possible romance. However, that’s not to say things won’t get swoonier in the next book.

7. The secondary characters are just as perfect. Alwyn’s debut taught me that if she’s going to write in a detail she’s going to flesh it out. Every thing, person, and event is in this book for an important reason. There’s no filler here.

8. I can’t say anything bad about this book. I loved the writing, the details, the imagery. everything. I can’t wait for book 2!

Basically, you should read this. I mean, you have to at least be a LITTLE curious to see how an author can successfully combine the Wild West and the Middle East right? I highly recommend Rebel of the Sands.

This review was originally posted on May 13, 2016.


Author Interview With Mila Young | Apollo Is Mine Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted September 26, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 1 Comment

Author Interview With Mila Young | Apollo Is Mine Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for Mila Young’s Apollo Is Mine (book #1 in the Harem of the Gods series), hosted by Rockstar Book Tours! Pardon the late arrival of this post. We had a gmail mishap, and I only just received Mila’s interview today.

I’m excited to have Mila stop by the blog today and participate in this month’s Magic, Myth, & Mischief interview series!


Interview With Mila Young

What makes your book magical, mythical, and/or mischievous?
A reviewer recently described Apollo Is Mine as Shadowhunter meets sexy Greek gods with lots of steam! Elyse, the heroine comes from a long lineage of hunters who have been blessed by Zeus to fight mythical creatures that come to Earth to kill humans. They are the last line of defense, except Elyse is the last of her kind, and even supernatural abilities may not be enough when Hades arrives in town with Death right on his heels.

What magical power do you wish you had?
To control water… imagine all the good I could do on Earth :)

If you were a character in a fairy tale/myth, who would you be?
Ariel from Little Mermaid… I grew up loving this fairy tale and have wanted to be a mermaid for ever!! Haha

If you could live in any fairytale or mythical world, which one would you choose to live in and why?
Harry Potter world… of course :P

Dragons or unicorns?
Unicorns!!

Hans Christian Andersen, Grimms Brothers, or Disney?
Grimms Brothers… I grew up being told these kind of tales, hence my twisted imagination when it comes to tales :)

Which magical/mythical creatures do you love reading about in books?
Werewolves. Don’t know why but I watch everything and anything on them I can get my hands on .

What recipe would you use to create your own gingerbread house?
No idea if it would work, but I would love to make a gingerbread house out of snickerdoodles… drool!

Who are your favorite villains of lore?
Ursula

Would you rather be a hero or a villain?
Villain

Would you rather be locked up in a tower or a dungeon?
Tower

What elements of the (fairy tale/myth/retelling) did you use when incorporating the tale into your own novel?
I have written my own spin on Red Riding Hood, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid and Rapunzel :) They can be found here.

Which magical/mythical creatures exist in your books?
Oh I definitely have lots… from werewolves, to lion and dragon shifters, to gargoyles and genies, to Greek gods and death casters.


Apollo Is Mine by Mila Young
Series: Harem of The Gods #1
Self-published on September 18, 2018
Add to Goodreads
Amazon

I’m a warrior. Cursed to fight monsters. Sworn to act as Zeus’ sword to protect mankind.

But I’d give it all up for one last kiss with the god who stole my heart…Apollo.

I never wanted to carry my family’s legacy. But blood ties cannot be broken, and I’ll keep the promise I made my father on his dying bed. Legendary monsters hunt in city streets of Chicago, and my job was to take down the worst.

I’ve trained with Heracles.

Been blessed with super human powers.

What I’ve never done is fallen in love—until Apollo crossed my path. But he isn’t the only god to catch my attention. Hades is here too, and with him comes a darkness that leaves behind a trail of human bodies. Heracles and my gut instinct urges me to destroy this creature, but each step brings me closer to the truth…

Darkness cannot win…or the Earth will tumble into chaos and I’ll lose the god I’ve come to love…Apollo is mine.

Apollo is Mine is book 1 in the Harem of the Gods reverse harem series.

Content Warning: Steamy love scenes, dominating alphas who protect their female, and plenty of sexy Greek gods who will leave you breathless.


About Mila Young

Bestselling Author, Mila Young tackles everything with the zeal and bravado of the fairytale heroes she grew up reading about. She slays monsters, real and imaginary, like there’s no tomorrow.

By day she rocks a keyboard as a marketing extraordinaire. At night she battles with her might pen-sword, creating fairytale retellings, and sexy ever after tales. In her spare time, she loves pretending she’s a mighty warrior, walks on the beach with her dogs, cuddling up with her cats, and devouring every fantasy tale she can get her pinkies on.

Mila’s Newsletter | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Facebook Group

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Top Ten Books By My Favorite Authors I Still Need to Read

Posted September 24, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 26 Comments

This week’s topic is all about the authors you love and the books of theirs you still want to read. Some of my favorite authors have written books I’m actually not interested in, so I’m just going to mention the ones I’m really excited about. Hopefully I get the time to read these soon!

 

Sarah J. Maas

1. A Court of Wings and Ruin

Stephanie Perkins

2. Isla and the Happily Ever After

Christina Lauren

3. Dating You / Hating You

Kasie West

4. Lucky In Love


5. Love, Life, and the List

Tracey Garvis-Graves

6. White-Hot Hack

Tessa Dare

7. Any Duchess Will Do


8. One Dance With a Duke

Jodi Meadows

9. The Orphan Queen

Sarah Morgan

10. Sleepless In Manhattan

What should I read first?
Which books did you put on your list this week?


The Flight of Swans & Stinging Nettles (or how I came to love Benadryl) by Sarah McGuire | Author Guest Post (+ Giveaway)

Posted September 24, 2018 by Jana in Guest Post / 4 Comments

Magic, Myth, & Mischief, hosted by me and Bonnie, is a month-long event that celebrates fairy tales and mythological retellings, as well as retellings of favorite classic novels and books featuring mythical beasts such as mermaids, dragons, and fae! Find the schedule of events and other information here.

Today I’m welcoming Sarah McGuire, author of The Flight of Swans, to the blog to talk about her new book and a crazy run-in she had with some stinging nettles while she was doing some research for it!


The Flight of Swans & Stinging Nettles
(or how I came to love Benadryl)

by Sarah McGuire

For me, writing a novel-length fairy tale retelling involves exploring what I love about the tale and what I want to change. In Grimm’s “Six Swans,” I’d loved that a girl did the saving. The young princess single-handedly saves her older brothers by remaining silent for six years and making them shirts out of stinging nettles.

Stinging nettles are the centerpiece of the original tale and there’s just something about the name. They sound like such sinister plants! It was easy to imagine a girl with blistered, perhaps even bleeding, hands weeping as she made six shirts.

And yet…

… it felt like the narrator sat there, saying, “You’re not going to talk? Well, what if you have to live alone? Okay, still won’t talk? What about if I make you work with stinging nettles that destroy your hands? Still won’t talk? You should marry this guy and have two babies–all while you can’t speak.”

“Six Swans” was all about the heroine’s endurance. But in The Flight of Swans, I wanted Andaryn to have agency. I wanted to show all the ways she sought to communicate even when she couldn’t speak, and how hard she worked to save her brothers.

That’s when I realized just what I wanted to change about my retelling. (Well, that and the romantic interest. That man was a mess! But that’s another blog post…) Andaryn wouldn’t just survive the nettles–she’d outwit them. And the more I researched nettles, the more I realized that was possible.

Here’s what I discovered:

  • Nettles were a primary source of fabric in Europe before linen. That may be why the Grimms’ version of the tale (gathered as folklore) is fairly matter-of-fact about nettles, while Hans Christian Anderson’s “Wild Swans” involves so much suffering. I doubt Anderson had much experience with stinging nettles except for occasionally being stung by some.
  • There’s a way you can touch nettles so that you don’t get stung. Thank you, YouTube! There were even folks who tore leaves off the nettle plants and ATE them.
  • Stinging nettles are incredibly nutritious.

But research isn’t anything without trying it yourself, right? So I met with Krista, a local farmer whocultivated and harvested stinging nettles. She told me how people with arthritis would use the nettles to sting the affected areas– and that it helped. She told me that you got used to the stings. The first stings of the season hurt, but you’d hardly notice them by the end of the season.

Then she asked if I wanted to try it. And–this was probably me–it seemed like she wondered if I would actually do it.

Oh, I wanted to harvest them. (Because research. Also ego.) I rolled up my sleeves, grabbed a handful of nettles (the wrong way- because research!) and started hacking away. When I had an entire grocery bag of nettles, Krista looked at my welt-covered arms and told me that I had the strongest reaction to nettles she’d seen in a while.

I nodded bravely (because, ego) but to be honest, my arms looked worse than they felt.

By the time I’d driven home, the welts had disappeared. My hands and arms looked normal, and the pain was definitely manageable. Perhaps the fairy tale had been overestimating how much stinging nettles hurt.

A few hours later, I’d changed my mind. Every bit of skin that had been stung burned, and even the slight pressure of typing on laptop hurt. The pain was prickly from the inside–the way it feels when you lose circulation in your foot and then stand up. Except it didn’t stop. A few hours later, it still hadn’t stopped.

I chickened out by bedtime and took an antihistamine. Even so, I still felt triumphant. Because while I’d definitely harvested the nettles the wrong way, I’d also realized that I could strip an entire nettle stalk of its leaves without getting stung. I won’t lie–I was proud of that.

Here’s what stinging nettles taught me. Yes, awful things happen, and we writers do awful things to our characters. But it’s also important to concentrate on the way that we (and they!) fight back.

I love that.

The Flight of Swans wasn’t an easy book to write. Andaryn is mute for most of it. I had to cover six years of her life without bogging down the story. And while I’d loved researching nettles, the story needed to be about so much more than the nettles.

But for me the research on nettles allowed me to create the sort of heroine that I love. Yes, Ryn endures a great deal, but she doesn’t just endure this curse. She fights it. And for me, that is always, always, the kind of story I want to read.


The Flight of Swans by Sarah McGuire
Published October 1, 2018 by Carolrhoda Books
Genres: Middle Grade — Fantasy, Retelling
Add to Goodreads • Amazon

Based on the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale Six Swans, The Flight of Swans follows Ryn’s journey to save her family and their kingdom.

Princess Andaryn’s six older brothers have always been her protectors–until her father takes a new Queen, a frightening, mysterious woman who enchants the men in the royal family. When Ryn’s attempt to break the enchantment fails, she makes a bitter bargain: the Queen will spare her brothers’ lives if Ryn remains silent for six years.

Ryn thinks she freed her brothers, but she never thought the Queen would turn her brothers into swans. She never thought she’d have to discover the secret to undoing the Queen’s spell while eluding the Otherworldly forces that hunt her. And she never thought she’d have to do it alone, without speaking a single word.

As months as years go by, Ryn learns there is more to courage than speech . . . and that she is stronger than the Queen could have ever imagined.


About Sarah McGuire

Sarah McGuire is a nomadic math teacher who sailed around the world aboard a floating college campus. She writes fairy tales and would be just fine if one day she opened a wardrobe and stumbled into another world. Coffee and chocolate are her rocket fuel. She wishes Florida had mountains, but she lives there anyways with her husband (who wrote this bio in less than three minutes!) and their family.

Website | Twitter

 

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Firelight by Sophie Jordan | Book Review

Posted September 21, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 7 Comments

Firelight by Sophie Jordan | Book ReviewFirelight by Sophie Jordan
Series: Firelight #1
Also in this series: Hidden
Published by HarperTEEN on September 7, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 323
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought it!
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love.


Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki, a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away;if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

The story of Jacinda and Will grabbed me from page one and had me reading long into a night I should have spent sleeping instead of reading. I’ve often wondered if my bookishness is detrimental to my health and personal well-being, but I digress! Back to the subject at hand… I’m having a hard time reviewing this book, and I’m not sure why. I’ve written a review probably 5 times already, and I’m still not happy with it. Maybe it’s because the story has a lot in common with other YA Paranormal romances out there. I’m not saying it’s not worth the read, I’m just not sure what I can say about it that’s new, other than the fact that we’re dealing with dragons. I’ll try!

Jacinda’s glowing orange skin and intricate wings are not all she has going for her. All Draki have a special talent. Some can breathe underwater, some can control human minds, and some can fly extremely fast. Jacinda breathes fire—a talent that was thought to have died out long ago before she was discovered. Thus, she is extremely valuable to pride. Things were planned out and set in motion for her to marry the Draki prince, Cassian, and create a ton of little fire-breathers just like herself. This unappealing future, mixed with her rebellious nature, mixed with the fact that she barely came home alive after being tracked and shot by a group of hunters prompted her mother to sneak Jacinda and her non-draki twin sister, Tamra, out of the pride and move to Arizona. Her mother chose Arizona because drakis can’t survive in such dry and barren conditions. Jacinda’s draki would eventually die off just like her mother’s, and they could live normal, safe lives as humans. Jacinda was not ok with this and did everything she could to keep her withering draki alive. Then, she saw Will—one of the hunters she encountered the night her mother forced them to flee. He was the one who stared into her draki eyes that night and let her go, leading his family of hunters away from her. They lock eyes in the hall at school, and an instant connection is made. He ignites the draki within her, and she captivates him for a reason he can’t quite figure out. Even though he’s the one who keeps her draki alive, she has to constantly fight her attraction to him (and resist his to her) and keep her distance. She can never let him know what she is without risking the lives of all those she holds dear. The hunters can never find out their best-kept secret—that draki can take on human form.

I really enjoyed this book! First off, how refreshing is it to finally have the girl be the paranormal one? Yes, there are a few mythical heroines out there, but we all know it’s usually the guy. It was fun to read how a girl deals with being different. Jacinda is SO driven by her emotions. She goes through highs and lows, and she’s always freaking out about everything. She’s not calm, cool, and collected like our mainstream paranormal heroes in other novels. I’m not saying she’s spastic and annoying. She certainly handled things better than I would have. I just enjoyed reading about her inner struggle rather than a guy’s, like I usually do.

This book moved really quickly! The tension built up fast, and I found myself trying to read faster than my brain could handle. There was no lollygagging in this book, and I really enjoyed that about it. I never got bored.

The romance between Will and Jacinda was believable, but maybe not for their age group. I never thought of them as high school juniors. They have a very mature relationship, which I was happy about, as I have a hard time enjoying the whiny teenage romances. Even though the romance did not seem realistic for their ages, the high school life was pretty real to me. I remember when I moved to a new high school, I struggled with fitting in. I was picked on. Jacinda went through the same motions I did, and I felt for her and could relate to how she was feeling. She was a total fish out of water, with only one friend who wasn’t even really a friend—more like a person to sit with and talk to. High school’s really hard, and Jacinda dealt with it.

Unfortunately, there were not a lot of characters to like in this book. There was an overabundance of villains: the alpha of her pride (who wanted her for selfish reasons), her mom (who lied to her frequently, and tried to kill off an important part of Jacinda), her sister (who should have tried to be more supportive of Jacinda’s situation), Will’s family (who were complete and total jerks to Will, and almost perverts towards Jacinda), the school bullies (who tried to make her life a living hell, and even attacked her). I’m not used to only liking the two main people. I guess the author chose to do this in order to emphasize the odds against Will and Jacinda, but I really wanted to like more people!

I loved that Jacinda was so true to herself, against all these odds. She didn’t just sit back and let her mother get what she wanted (a draki-free Jacinda). They argued and fought all the time. Her mom kept so many secrets from her, and then when she finally told Jacinda the truth, she wasn’t even nice about it. This woman is just not a good mother figure—and I found her character to be a bit hard to believe sometimes. I know she was trying to protect Jacinda, but she rarely ever showed any compassion, empathy, or even love.

For the most part, I enjoyed the writing style. Several reviewers have mentioned that the book was laced consistently with sentence fragments, which got rather annoying. I totally agree. This is definitely not a book for people looking for pristine literary writing. I had to re-read and re-think some of the passages, just because my mind was not following the choppy writing style. It helped to add to the suspense, but it detracted a bit from everything else. Other than that, the action scenes were done very well and the author’s descriptions left little to be desired. She gave me enough information to be able to picture everything in my mind, but not so much that my mind couldn’t take a few liberties and allow my creative juices to fill in the gaps.

Regardless of a few complaints, I loved the premise, the story, the character development of both Jacinda and Will, the fact that Jacinda is such a likeable heroine, the descriptive passages that painted pictures in my mind, the fast-paced storyline that kept my eyes glued to the pages into the wee hours of the morning, and the fact that now I think dragons are sexy.

This review was originally posted on February 22, 2012, and was re-posted for some extra love.


The Dragons of the Fallen Isles by Jodi Meadows | Author Guest Post

Posted September 20, 2018 by Jana in Uncategorized / 4 Comments

Magic, Myth, & Mischief, hosted by me and Bonnie, is a month-long event that celebrates fairy tales and mythological retellings, as well as retellings of favorite classic novels and books featuring mythical beasts such as mermaids, dragons, and fae! Find the schedule of events and other information here.

I’m so excited to Jodi Meadows, author of the the Fallen Isles trilogy (Before She Ignites and As She Ascends), to the blog today to talk about the magical and wonderful dragons that live in the Fallen Isles! As She Ascends just entered the world on September 11, 2018, and it’s filled with action and excitement and so many dragons!


The Dragons of the Fallen Isles

by Jodi Meadows

For the Fallen Isles series, I wanted to share a world filled with lots of different kinds of dragons, because I — like lots of other kids — had a fascination with dinosaurs. It faded over time, but I remember being completely awed by them, and storing a ton of random facts about them in my head, and as the little kids in my life get to the age where they first learn about dinosaurs, I see it in them too. I wanted to capture that feeling for my main character, Mira, but I wanted it to be about dragons, and I wanted it to be something that never left her, even as she got older.

So when building the Fallen Isles, I thought about what kind of dragons might be interesting to learn about as a reader, and what someone like Mira would know about each of them.

I came up with several different species, but a few of the ones that make it into the story:

Drakontos raptus: A small ferret-sized dragon that can be trained to hunt, like a bird of prey. They come in many different colors, but the two who show up on the page often are gold and silver — LaLa and her wingsister Crystal.

Drakontos ignitus: These are medium-sized dragons that are dull brown as juveniles, but turn fire-colored with age. They can ignite the air around them, as well as breathe fire.

Drakontos mimikus: Dragons that can change the color of their scales and the timbre of their voices as protection.

Drakontos rex: Impressively large dragons, often jewel-tone colors. In the past, warriors rode them into battle, as they had long jets of fire and could destroy cities from far above.

Drakontos titanus: The largest species of dragon, with a roar like thunder and wings that can black out the sun.

There are several other species of dragons in the world, many who pop up throughout the series, and it’s always fun to describe them through Mira’s filter of love and wonder.

Before She Ignites had mostly Mira’s memories of dragons, plus a few real-time interactions with them, but As She Ascends is all dragons all the time. It was a little complicated to figure out how characters would go about their plot with an armful of dragons, but in the end it was worth it. Because dragons.


As She Ascends by Jodi Meadows
Series: Fallen Isles #2
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 11, 2018
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MIRA, THE HOPEBEARER
Mira Minkoba is on the run with her friends after a fiery escape from the Pit, where she’d been imprisoned for defending the dragons she loves. And she wants answers. Where have all the dragons been taken? Why are powerful noorestones being shipped to the mainland? And did the treaty she’s been defending her whole life truly sell out the Fallen Isles to their enemies?

MIRA, THE DRAGONHEARTED
As her connection to the dragons—and their power—grows stronger, so does Mira’s fear that she might lose control and hurt someone she loves. But the only way to find the truth is to go home again, to Damina, to face the people who betrayed her and the parents she’s not sure she can trust.

Home, where she must rise above her fears. Or be consumed.

The second page-turning novel in Jodi Meadows’ Fallen Isles trilogy scorches with mysterious magic and riveting romance as one girl kindles a spark into a flame.


About Jodi Meadows

Jodi Meadows wants to be a ferret when she grows up and she has no self-control when it comes to yarn, ink, or outer space. Still, she manages to write books. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy, the ORPHAN QUEEN Duology, and the FALLEN ISLES Trilogy (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen), and a coauthor of MY LADY JANE (HarperTeen). Visit her at Website: www.jodimeadows.com

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Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown | Book Review

Posted September 19, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 9 Comments

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown | Book ReviewLies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown
Series: Lies Beneath #1
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on June 12, 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 303
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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4.5 Stars
Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans and absorb their positive energy. Usually, they select their victims at random, but this time around, the underwater clan chooses its target for a reason: revenge. They want to kill Jason Hancock, the man they blame for their mother's death.

It's going to take a concerted effort to lure the aquaphobic Hancock onto the water. Calder's job is to gain Hancock's trust by getting close to his family. Relying on his irresistible good looks and charm, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter Lily. Easy enough, but Calder screws everything up by falling in love--just as Lily starts to suspect there's more to the monster-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined, and just as the mermaids threaten to take matters into their own hands, forcing Calder to choose between them and the girl he loves.

One thing's for sure: whatever Calder decides, the outcome won't be pretty.

I’d been really worried about Lies Beneath, as a lot of the reviews have been mixed, but I really, really enjoyed this book. I loved so much about it. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. We have a male narrator! YES! This was so refreshing. Calder is a merman from a family of human-killing mermaids. He was not born this way, but was changed to a merman after falling off a boat and drowning as a young child. Maybe that’s why he’s a bit reformed, and hopes to escape the “school of fish” loyalty and just be his own person. I loved reading his thoughts as he struggled between being who he wanted to be and being who he was created to be. I think Brown did an amazing job writing a male’s thoughts. I’ve always thought that would be a tricky thing to do.

2. This story takes place in an awesome location: Lake Superior. That lake is so mysterious and deep and freezing, and I LOVE that the story took place here rather than in the cliche tropical location. Rather than hearing about rainbow fish and sea turtles, you get to read about sunken ships and the unexplored depths of the lake. We even get a mention of an ancient road down there.

3. I really liked the evil mermaid spin. I was getting tired of the “I wish I were human, but I have this tail, so I’m going to swim around and hope I can fake being human well enough to make you love me” storyline. These mermaids love being who they are. Even Calder does not want to quit being a merman, he just does not want to suck the life out of humans. They all have their own personalities, and don’t sit around suppressing what they are. And the evil thing? It was awesome! Mermaids are made out to be monsters and not humans. It created some suspense and intrigue. I dunno, I guess I’ve always been a bit rebellious myself, so I enjoyed the more gritty and dangerous spin.

4. I really enjoyed the need for revenge that the mermaids had. It consumed their thoughts as they tried to seek revenge on the man they blamed their mother’s death on. Even though these mermaids are considered evil, you have to give them credit for never breaking a promise, and for being extremely loyal to each other. I mean, even though Calder began to change his mind regarding this revenge, his mind was so linked with his sisters’ that he really struggled with an inner turmoil that pulled him in two very different directions.

5. I appreciated Lily’s common sense and vivaciousness. I can’t stand a dumb, quivering-in-her-boots kind of heroine. Lily has a sharp mind and she knows things without having someone beat it into her head with a hammer. And I loved her little sister, Sophie. She is adorable.

6. The Hancock family’s past is vast and dynamic. I loved getting more insight into what happened to make these mermaids so mad, and what mysteries are hidden beneath the surface.

7. The romance was sweet. It was not obsessive or silly. It seemed legit to me. Calder and Lily look out for one another, and have a healthy give and take relationship. Calder is not controlling or stalkery. I mean yes, he lurks in the water outside her home to protect her, but he’s not sneaking in her room to watch her sleep. Lily is not helpless and naive. She can hold her own, and does not frighten easily. I believed this one.

8. I wish the book had spent a little more time on Calder’s sisters. Those girls were so much fun to read about, and they were really what made the book so unique. Hopefully the rest of the trilogy will give us more information on them. They could have their own spin-off series.

All in all, this book is now one of my new favorite mermaid romances. I loved the unique spin, the believable romance, and the interesting characters. I would definitely recommend this for lovers of mermaid books, and it’s also a great one to start on if you’re just dipping your toe into the genre.


Top Ten Books On My Fall 2018 To-Read List

Posted September 18, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 44 Comments

Fall officially begins on Friday, and I am so happy! I love fall. It’s probably my favorite season of the year (although I do love winter, too). During the fall season I love reading atmospheric, creepy, gothic kinds of stories. I also love mysteries and romantic suspense. This fall I’ve got a few of these kinds of books that I’d really love to get to, plus a few rich fantasies that sound amazing as well!

Girl At the Grave by Teri Bailey Black
Gothic YA! I am here for it!

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre. YES.

Maulever Hall by Jane Aiken Hodge
A creepy, gothic romantic suspense novel that’s been republished recently from its original 1960’s version. There’s amnesia and paranoia and a large country home. Sounds very intriguing!

Tailspin by Sandra Brown
A romantic suspense novel about a pilot and a mysterious delivery.

The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets
Researching a serial killer in the Rocky Mountain wilderness.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
I’ll devour any Beauty and the Beast retelling, and this one sounds perfect!

A Study In Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas
I’ve been really excited to read the Lady Sherlock historical mystery books, and this would be the perfect time to do it!

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
This kind of sounds like the book version of that movie Disturbia with Shia LaBeouf. I love that movie!

Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
Another gothic YA romance/mystery/horror that I’ve heard great things about! It takes place in the swamps on Louisiana, and having lived there, I can see how creepy and horrifying this book has the potential to be.

The House at Midnight by Lucie Whitehouse
This one sounds so creepy! I love creepy English manors that seem to have their own personalities.

Which books are you hoping to read this fall?
Are you a mood reader who is inspired by the seasons?
What kinds of books do you like to read this time of year?
Have you read any of my picks?


Interview With Seventh Born Author Monica Sanz

Posted September 18, 2018 by Jana in Uncategorized / 1 Comment

Magic, Myth, & Mischief, hosted by me and Bonnie, is a month-long event that celebrates fairy tales and mythological retellings, as well as retellings of favorite classic novels and books featuring mythical beasts such as mermaids, dragons, and fae! Find the schedule of events and other information here.

Today I’m welcoming Monica Sanz, author of Seventh Born, the the first book in the The Witchling Academy series, to the blog to participate in our fun interview series!


Interview with Monica Sanz

1. What makes your book(s) magical, mythical, or mischievous?
What makes my books magical, mythical, and mischievous is that they feature, well, magic, myth, and mischief! Seventh Born is about an outcast witch learning to control her powers while solving murders with her professor. Not only is her working relationship (and any relationship at all!) with the brooding and handsome professor considered taboo, but Sera has a quick temper and sets things in fire when enraged. If that’s not mischief, then I don’t know what is!

Finvarra’s Circus is based on the Irish folktales of King Finvarra Ethna the Bride, and the Leanan Sidhe. It’s about a girl who sneaks into a magical circus and finds out it’s cursed and she’s the only one who can save them. This leads to a whole lot of trouble for everyone.

2. Which mythical character do you see yourself in the most, or do you relate to most and why?
I have to say faeries, though I don’t think I’m wicked enough to be one. I love nature and magic and feel this oneness with the universe, so I think a faerie is quite fitting.

3. Dragons or unicorns?
Unicorns! Dragons are cool with the fire breathing and all, but unicorns have this untamed beauty and silent strength I’m drawn to. Plus, they have countless magical abilities.

4. Would you rather be a hero or a villain?
I would rather be a hero. I’m a generally happy person and it takes so much energy to remain angry and bitter and filled with the need for revenge all the time. I’d rather go about my life and help people when I can than focus on how I can bring death and devastation. It’s too much work.

5. Would you rather be locked up in a tower or a dungeon?
A tower, for sure! At least in a tower I can see the sun and feel the breeze or enjoy the sound of rain and birds and nature. When I think of a dungeon, I imagine rats and dark and damp cells. It’s all so dreary. Plus, whenever towers are used in stories, it’s one person in a tower versus a dungeon with other prisoners bemoaning their imprisonment. Yes, I think I’d be much happier in a tower.

6. What elements of the tale did you use when incorporating the tale into your own novel?
With Finvarra’s Circus, I incorporated the original tale of King Finvarra and Ethna the Bride quite extensively. I don’t want to say how, but it’s the foundation of the circus and Finvarra’s character. The same goes for the Leanan Sidhe. She’s a beautiful fairy who takes on a human lover and becomes their muse. Lovers of the Leanan Sidhe, however, are said to live brief but highly inspired lives. These two folktales are woven together to create the backstory to Finvarra’s Circus, and the story takes off from there.

7. Which magical/mythical creatures exist in your books?
My newest release, Seventh Born features witches and wizards and a Barghest, which is a mythical dog with enormous teeth and claws. It’s such a fitting creature to include, especially with someone like Sera as a main character. I’m working on book two now, and that will feature a mythological creature, I just can’t say what yet or it’ll spoil the surprise. Finvarra’s Circus is a troupe of mythological creatures so there are faeries, sprites, merrows, centaurs, a unicorn, a fire dragon, and so much more. I loved using their magical identities in their performances, it made everything so much more magical.

8. What made you want to incorporate a myth or folk tale into something brand-new?
It’s fun to take known myths and breathe new life into them, as well as see how our characters interact with whatever tale we choose. With Seventh Born I ended up making up my own lore, but book two is heavily based on a few myths and it’s made for a very atmospheric and creepy story which I’m super excited about. With Finvarra’s Circus, it just happened that the book was based on these folktales so I had no say in the matter. If the mythology wasn’t included, the book wouldn’t exist.

9. Have you seen any recent fairy tale/myth movie/television adaptations? If yes, which ones and what do you like most about it/them?
One of my favorites is not recent but I have to gush about it because it’s so romantic. Ever After: A Cinderella Story is such a gorgeous and heart-warming movie. I remember watching it when I was younger and falling in love with the fairy tale all over again. Drew Barrymore is fantastic as Cinderella and I felt her frustration at how she was treated but at the same time she had this desire to belong and be loved and to have a family with these people that hated her. Dougray Scott was such a handsome and believable prince and loved how his character grew humble throughout the movie. I would totally recommend watching it. I think I may watch it again soon.


Seventh Born by Monica Sanz
Published by Entangled TEEN on September 4, 2018
Genres: Young Adult — Paranormal, Romance
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Abomination. Curse. Murderer. All names hurled at eighteen-year-old Seraphina Dovetail. As the seventh-born daughter to a witch, she’s the cause of her mother losing her powers and, in turn, her life.

Abandoned as a child, Sera dreams of becoming an inspector and finding her family. To do that, she must be referred into the Advanced Studies Program at the Aetherium’s Witchling Academy. Her birth order, quick temper, and tendency to set things on fire, however, have left her an outcast with failing marks…and just what Professor Nikolai Barrington is looking for.

The tall, brooding, yet exceedingly handsome young professor makes her a proposition: become his assistant and he’ll give her the referral she needs. Sera is quickly thrust into a world where witches are being kidnapped, bodies are raised from the dead, and someone is burning seventhborns alive. As Sera and Barrington grow ever closer, she’ll discover that some secrets are best left buried…and fire isn’t the only thing that makes a witch burn.


About Monica Sanz

Monica Sanz has been writing from the moment she could string together a sentence. Her stories have come a long way from mysterious portals opening in the school cafeteria, transporting classmates to distant worlds. A classic by the name Wuthering Heights is responsible for that. She’s been lost to dark romances and brooding fictional men ever since. Now she writes about grumpy professors, cursed ringmaster, tortured soul collectors, and the girls they fall in love with.

Monica’s books have received many accolades on the social writing website Wattpad. She’s accumulated over six million reads, eighty thousand votes, and fifteen thousand comments since posting her books on the website. She is also a member of the Wattpad4, a group of writers who host weekly Twitter chats on the subjects of writing and publishing.

When not lost in one of her made-up worlds, she can be found on the sunny beaches of South Florida where she resides with her husband and their three children or scouring YouTube for new bands to feed her music addiction.

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